tv American Artifacts CSPAN March 15, 2015 8:00am-8:30am EDT
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] one of these messages meant that we -- with the message in error the minds of consumers who accepted particular condition to accept a particular condition. announcer: each week, american history tv's american artifacts visits museums and historic places. next we travel about 15 miles northwest of washington, d.c. to
great falls tavern visitors center where we will take a boat ride to learn more about the chesapeake and the ohio canal. [foghorn] >> i would like to introduce myself. my name is cassondra and i'm a seasonal park ranger here at the chesapeake and ohio canal. i think we will cast off shortly. we are going to go ahead and start their start and -- start and give you a brief history here on the canal. all right, it is called the chesapeake and ohio canal, but it definitely -- starts at the chesapeake bay and rose up to the mouth of the ohio canal. when we told it, we wanted to connect to the eastern shore with what was considered the west back then. the west was up in ohio, pennsylvania, that area. we wanted to connect pittsburgh
to the chesapeake bay. it was george washington's dream to use the potomac river to transport goods and it was seen as a reasonable thing to do. he had any canal system go by using that you have any canal system built by using -- he had a canal system built while using a system of locks but it did not work very well so we are his dreams and that one next to become a river so we could use the water source have something more reliable. you boat over the falls, he would not last long. -- you would not last long. we rented from georgetown to cumberland and that is where we ran into problems known as the appalachian mountains.
we did not take good interference -- to that into consideration. the canal is 184.5 miles long and there are 74 left -- life locks -- lift locks. there is a big difference between yorktown and. georgetown is below sea level and cumberland is on it so there is a difference. these locks but control difference so we can -- let us control the difference so we can go both ways. what will happen here is that we have the bowsman in the front.
he has a tow line connected to the lock itself so you will start pulling and so weekend ourselves into bed we can pull ourselves into the lock. -- so we can ourselves into the lock. what do would do is they would have you mules walking along the solid and very would call us in, the crew members -- very would pull a syndrome of it would -- pull us in. this lets us make a sealed area so no longer can exit. this system was created by a man passed our time it named leonardo da vinci.
the created a lot of things but a lot of them did not want this one act was something that we decided that but this one was -- but this one was something that we decided work. what happens is this is one side of the lock that we have here and with the door there are two little doors on the bottom and these are called widgets and a connected to stems. since we are in the lock we need energy to open the lock so we take the key and we put it at the top of the stem and return the doors at the bottom so it lets the water from downstream. we opened the wicket doors. every log new jersey and this is
this part right here is the slowest part because the water is almost so it is not rushing and like we saw when we opened the door so it takes a little longer for the water to equal out. then we start moving. you would have locked universe that would do that, they would be the ones in charge of opening the doors and everything like that. the lock keepers were in charge of that and they would live in houses like the one that is here to my right. the only difference about this locked house is that it was the only hotel on the canal. the middle section of the great falls tavern was the original log house built in 1828 where
the family would live. in 1831 we finished the additions on the north and south end. the north end is the hotel part of the tavern and the bottom floor where you bought your tickets from is what was called the ballroom and it was a tavern at one point and it did serve alcohol back then. that is where people would come and from georgetown they would take about a four hour trip to great falls and i devotes just like this one, this is called a passenger boat. -- they would take votes just like this one, it is called a passenger voteboat. the second floor was for male and female quarters so they had to stay separately unless they were able to provide a marriage license.
if they could do that they would stay on the third floor which is the attic or the honeymoons suite. the south end of the tavern was the new lockouts were the lark family stayed -- locked house where the lock family stayed. there were 10 -- they would tend to three different locks. imagine one man taking care of three different locks, it is a hard job to do with all of the work. depending on how many locks he would tend would be how much she would be paid by the company so with three locks he would get $250 which would allow him to hire an assistant so he could go ahead and have him help with the rest of the locks.
but the canal company was very smart and they decided they needed to hire men who have large families because if you how you're the husband of a large family you get the rest of the family for free. the family would help as well, the wife would help and the older children. they would be able to stay here at the lock houses for free. they would get the $250 along with the house and also an acre of land. what that allowed them to do was provide for themselves. they would do produce and has farm animals as they would need like cows or chickens so they can sustain themselves because that $250 was per year. at the geek of the canal in the
1870's, if you were waiting for 30 minutes there were about 15 or 20 boats waiting at the loft. at the peak of its days, there were 15 or 20 boats operational on the canal. these are obviously not horses. a lot of people use them for horses and donkeys. they are a combination of the two. but a very special combination. the male is going to be the donkey. and the female was going to be the mare. or the horse. that is how you get a mule. you need in mail donkey and a female horse. if you did at the other way, you would get something that is called a henney, and they do not have the same working genes that we want our mules to have on the canal, so we decided meals would -- mules would be a better fit for us. all through history, you have the use of horses.
the pony express, wagons. they were used for various things. the question that always usually comes up, why are the mules here instead of horses. there are various reasons for that. you can tell some of the characteristics the mules get from the donkeys. you can see their ears. their ears make them very aware of their surroundings. their feet also are a different shape from horses. they are more oval shape instead more -- where therey or more circular. that makes them very surefooted and allows them to know where they are placing their foot at all times. they are not skittish like horses are. horses will tend to rear up and it takes a while to combat down, whereas -- calm back down, whereas our mules are not as jumpy. so, with a horse, you get it reared up and you have to wait for it to calm down. with a mule, it would just stop.
because it knows where it is placing its foot and it would see a snake there and it would wait for you to move it so it would not cause any harm to itself. they are also very smart. actually mules are smarter than horses are. with a horse, you can work a horse to death. because horses are there to please their master. if you had a horse here on canal, you could literally run it to death, to the ground from working. rose a mule, you have heard the saying stubborn as a mule. if someone says that you are as stubborn as a new all, you can take that as a compliment. they are saying that you are smart. you cannot work a mules to death. after about six hours, it will stop working. it will say i'm not trying to hurt myself. i am going to stand here until you change me out.
our mules today, are dolly and eva. they are two of our youngest mules. dolly is 11 and eva is ten. and you can see that they are connected by two chains. that are in the middle of them. eva as a free that is not really a tree but is -- house they read -- has a tree that is not really a tree but is a towline. they are currently pulling us at the rate of two miles an hour maybe. they could pull us a little bit faster, but we do not usually want to go any faster than this. and back then they could not go faster than this, because there was a speed limit of four miles an hour on the canal. seems a little crazy but there is a good reason as to why, if you look at besides some spots are covered -- the sides, you will see some spots are covered by rocks.
if we have a boat that went faster than four miles an hour we would cause a weight -- wake and that would end up causing the wake to brush up on the sides of the canal and sink besides -- the sides and damage the canal . the four miles an hour was very enforced by the lock keepers. and that is why we could not go faster than that. so our typical boats here on the canal, these are what the barges would look like. they were about 90 to 91 feet long and 14.5 feet wide. we were on a tight budget on the canal so we had three inches of clearance on each side so you had to be very good at your job
is steering in because if you ended up doing any damage you had to pay for any damage you did to the law and to your vote -- lock and to your boat. this is called the family cabin and it was 12.5 by 12.5 feet, it was extremely small. the only space you have them therefore room, your cooking would -- had and therefore room, your cooking would be done in there and you would have one or two beds. in front is the bow and this farm here -- barn here was the barn. they only work six hours so we
would change them out every six hours so you can continue working throughout the day. on top of that the barn is the place for the family would sleep because there were big families on the canal boat so if there was not enough room in the family cabin we would end up sleeping in the barn. in the middle of the barges were the cargo was kept. coal was the main cargo on the canal, it was used to keep the homes between cumberland and georgetown, for cooking and goods like that. you would have goods coming from georgetown as well. georgetown was a factory town so you have mills to produce grain and timber and furniture and textile goods. it would be shipped up north to
the various ports. this was a two way traffic back then and there was only one twoow path used for the mules. and so the question is how our two votes -- are two boats in opposite directions passing each other? present there is a boat coming in the other direction loaded up with coal, one to 20 tons and we -- 120 tons and we have eight tons. that means they have the right-of-way because it is harder to stop and start -- stop thereeir boat. they would yell a canal saying.
so that was the canal saying that we used in all that means is that the mule stop on-q -- stopped on cue. with that we would to the side -- push to the side and let the tow line s than the downstreamink. -- sink. then the downstream boat will pass. we are actually cutting it really close turning around. like i said these were very family oriented votes. -- boats. the father would be on the front of the boat, looking out for dangers and making sure the line was safe. on the back of the boat you
would have the mother, she would be in charge of steering along with doing chores. men can no longer say that women are not good at driving because we were back there driving all of the time. the children that they were of a certain age, about nine years old, we would get them to work. they would be walking with the mules. at the age of nine they would start working. i promise it was not child labor . if they were in the younger men we had to do something with them, they could not work but they could not be running around the boat. what we would do is take something like this. this is an old mule harness and we would do. section and take -- we would take the top section. you might see where this is going.
if not, i have a picture and it is awesome. this is a family of georgetown the mother is off to the side doing laundry and did not want the kids running around so she went ahead and tied them up. in the winter we would close for four months. it would start in early november, we would go ahead and close down and not open up until april. when we did close down was when we did the maintenance on the canal because back then it had to be kept six feet deep because the draft of the heaviest boat was four. you had to have enough room so obviously we have creeks that run into the canal and bring in sediment that causes sandbars which makes it hard to maintain the six feet.
in the winter months when we close down there was no boat running so we would rent out certain sections of the canal so we could use a shovel to dig out the dirt that was in there and you it to a minimum of six feet the. -- six feet deep. when we have the maintenance done we would let water back end and how we would do that is we could not use the atomic so we would have locks -- potomac so we would have locks called in land locks. we would allow the water from the potomac to rush into the canal and have a backup source of water in case we had problems . that is the first 28 miles of the canal nowadays that has water and then it gets spotty.
sorry kids, it does not sound like they had a good life but during the four moms the canal was closed and would actually go force -- to school and the school system was different. you have a series of books you had to go through so no matter how old you were or what grade you were and if you could not get past the first two had you could not move -- first book you had you could not move on to the second one. there were things like your abcs and how to account and write and by the third book it was more complicated, you learned how to work together and add and subtract. they did not need to go much as a canal kid but they needed to know the basic -- know much as a canal kid but they needed to know the basics. the lock keepers were on call 24/7 so they were constantly working no matter the time of
the day so they always had to be ready to work and how they would know they needed to have the lock ready is on the boat you would have a born h -- hgorn and you would blow the horn. a good thing about lock houses is that they are all white which makes them easier to see through the night so the people running 24 hours a day could see them at night and blow the horns to notify the lock keepers. the canal has a lot of history. we as the company went bankrupt because with the potomac being the water source and causes a lot of trouble and damage because whenever it floods we flood as well. this was a pricey job to be done
and took more money than we expected to finish the completion of the canal which stopped in 1850 when it reached cumberland. we ended up going bankrupt and our competitors at the time, the baltimore railroads, took over operations in the canal. and so they kind of made sure that we did not use it as frequently as we did in the 1870's because they wanted to be the main transport for any coal or cargo. they went ahead and took over operations for us and they did have to do a lot of reconstruction after flooding from the potomac. the last love that we had when they were in control was in 1924 and 80's -- flood that we had when they were in control was in 1924 and they decided it was too
much to repair so they closed it down for good. back then there were six boats so it was not in use as much as it was. [horn] so what was not in as much use as it was because the railroads had ended up getting the technology that they needed like the air brakes and the coupling between the cars and became more efficient. in 1924 we were not used as much so we went ahead and close down the canal. about 12 years later the national park service went ahead and bought the chesapeake canal for about $2 million. they got a big steel for 184.5 miles long and all of the acreage that they got. in the 1950's and decided that with all of this land and all of it dugout already, it would make
a good pathway to actually create a highway on it. they wanted to remove the historical properties that were here so they could create the highway to connect cumberland to georgetown. obviously it was not a good idea and it is still here today and the reason why are canal is still here today is that there is one man who was fond of the canal and he was a supreme court justice, william douglas. he looked at the canal very much and was saddened by the fact that the national parks was a good idea to turn this into a parkway so what he did is he went ahead and challenged two "washington post" editors who had said it was a good idea and challenge them to hike the whole length of the canal.
obviously after the long hike, they saw all of the beautiful things on the canal and decided that maybe it was not a good idea to turn this into a parkway . obviously it is safe today and william o douglas c the part so that you guys can enjoy it today instead of sitting on traffic on it are quite -- on a parkway. this time instead of raising the water we will lower the water and we will do it the same way that we did it when we came in the first time. we will use the doors connected to the stems and turn the lock key and let the water out.
so we went ahead and opened up the gates and unfortunately what that means is where the gates are open we have to get back to shore somehow and i and the mule have to get you back to shore so with that said i have to get off the boat unfortunately but i hope you guys enjoy your ride on the charles mercer -- enjoyed your ride on the charles mercer. if you have any questions asked the -- ask the tiller.